Egyptians rally to demand swifter reforms, justice

Muslim Brotherhood, others back protest; Egyptians express anger after police charged with killing demonstrators freed on bail.

By REUTERS
July 8, 2011 14:44
3 minute read.
Protesters fill Egypt's Tahrir Square

Protesters fill Egypt's Tahrir Square Cairo 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)

 
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CAIRO - Thousands of Egyptians gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday to demand faster reforms and the swifter prosecution of former officials from Hosni Mubarak's toppled government who face corruption and murder charges.

Most political groups and parties including the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's most organized political grouping, backed calls for the protest to be staged across Egypt.

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Hundreds of people had gathered in Suez and the coastal city of Alexandria, and Tahrir Square was already filling up before Friday prayers at noon, suggesting the protest would be among the biggest since Mubarak's ouster.

"Punishment for the killers of the martyrs," read one banner in Tahrir, which was the focal point for protests that drove Mubarak out of office on Feb. 11 after 30 years in power.

Egyptians call those who died in the protests "martyrs". More than 840 people were killed in the 18 days leading up to Mubarak's ouster after police used rubber bullets, live ammunition, tear gas and batons against demonstrators.

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"The revolution is continuing and will not reach its end until the murderers and corrupt people are tried," another banner read.

Relatives of Egyptians who died in the uprising and others protested this week after a court freed 10 police officers on bail during their trial on charges of killing demonstrators.

Hundreds of Egyptians in Suez, one of the most violent spots during the uprising, hurled stones at government buildings on Wednesday in response to the court decision.

"Down with the Field Marshal," some demonstrators chanted, referring to the military commander, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who heads the army council which took over from Mubarak.

Tantawi was Mubarak's defense minister for two decades.

"We want to change everything. The old regime has corrupted everything. We want to change the government and those in charge, the Field Marshal as well. The Field Marshal is an integral part of the old regime," said Ehab Mohamed Mahmoud, 36, who was checking those entering the square.

As with previous demonstrations since Mubarak was ousted, the thousands who gathered made political demands but were also in festive mood. Children with faces painted in the colors of the Egyptian flag -- red, white and black -- joined their parents.

On Friday morning, hundreds of people had gathered in central Suez demanding swift trials for those who killed protesters, a Reuters witness said.

A witness in Alexandria said hundreds waving flags joined a demonstration there too.

"The days are passing and concerns are rising in the souls of those who love this nation about ... rooting out corruption," the Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution said in a statement.

The group listed demands including calling for police officers who have used violence against protesters to be fired and the resignation of officials in the new government who have failed to deliver on their revolutionary promises. It also called for an end to trials of civilians in military courts.

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